By Jake Donovan
Zolani Tete is ready to resume his career—and already has his first order of business in hand.
The long-reigning bantamweight titlist will know by September 14 of the ‘when and where’ for his title consolidation clash versus interim title claimant John Riel Casimero. Both are recognized by the World Boxing Organization (WBO), whom ordered the fight and have now called for an official purse bid hearing.
“Zolani Tete is fit and ready to return to the ring, and he has to fight our interim bantamweight champion (Casimero),” Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcárcel, president of the WBO told BoxingScene.com. “We will be in Las Vegas next weekend, which is where the purse bid hearing will be held.”
The session will take place along the Vegas strip on the morning of the ESPN+ card at T-Mobile Arena, headlined by unbeaten top-ranked heavyweight Tyson Fury and undefeated Swedish southpaw Otto Wallin.
Philippines’ Casimero (28-4, 19KOs) aims to become a three-division titlist in his quest of South Africa’s Tete (28-3, 21KOs) who has been out for all of 2019 due to injury. Casimero previously reigned as a junior flyweight and flyweight titlist before moving up in weight two years ago.
An avenue to enter the title picture came in April, when his planned clash with top-rated bantamweight contender Ricardo Espinoza was upgraded to an interim title fight. Casimero prevailed by 12th round knockout in a fight that was even on the scorecards at the time of the dramatic stoppage.
The interim title status was approved due to Tete having never made a mandatory title defense over the course of his two-plus year reign, in addition to his being tied up with the World Boxing Super Series. The 5’9” souhtpaw became freed up for all of the wrong reasons, as a fight-week injury forced him to withdraw from his title unification and semifinals clash with Nonito Donaire.
Upon recovering from the injury, Tete was ordered to next honor his mandatory title defense. Casimero held the spot following a 10th round knockout of Cesar Ramirez this past August in Manila, Philippines.
The purse bid hearing is open to all WBO-registered promoters, providing they present a minimum $100,000 offer for the right to promote the fight. The winning bid will be divided via 75/25 split in favor of Tete; the split will increase to 80/20 should the event be staged in the home country of the challenger (Casimero).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox